Boxing Days – People are hitting back at GOP rule

Boxing Days

People are hitting back at GOP rule

December 26th 2019

Back when the House was preparing to vote on impeachment (was it really only a week ago?) one online news feed had the header, “House prepares to vote on impeachment as Trump rages”. Had I seen that headline in a crystal ball back on November 2016, I would have called it very predictable, perhaps even inevitable.

The only surprise to me was how much of Trump’s shit people put up with before deciding something needed to be done about him. Americans in general have a strong streak of authoritarian personality; they really hate to challenge authority. Didn’t used to be that way, of course; Americans were defined for centuries by their willingness to thumb their noses at their leaders. It’s taken three generations of ceaseless propaganda from the right and corporations to blunt that particularly American trait.

The problem, of course, is that a populace unwilling to challenge social and political leadership soon finds itself rapidly losing ground. Factory owners, priests, and aristocrats have never had your interests and heart and never will. It amuses them that they’ve trained Americans to, at worst, ask politely for their rights, and of course, they offer vague assurances that amount to a polite refusal.

Trump has undermined the pseudo-legitimacy of America’s ruling class, and the cracks are beginning to appear everywhere. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham were convinced they could openly make Trump’s trial an utter sham, and they are learning that even if they can pull that off, it will come at an immense political cost. The Democrats have realized that they only need four Republicans in order to control procedural votes to help ensure a fair trial (if not a fair verdict) and are pressing hard for those four. A trial with actual witnesses and testimony is going to do massive damage to McConnell’s dream of sweeping the entire thing under the rug. The public is actually watching closely, and the Republicans are every bit as much on trial as Trump himself will be.

A Christmas Day poll revealed that 55% of the public support having a Senate vote on ousting Trump, and only 40% oppose. The day the House impeached Trump, the public supported such a vote, but only by a 48-47 margin. Even in the red states, protecting Trump from his crimes has become a risky pastime for Republican representatives and Senators.

Trump spent Christmas attacking the homeless. At least, the homeless in Nancy Pelosi’s district. He doesn’t gave a shit about the homeless, of course, unless it’s to set up for-profit concentration camps for them. He just has the misguided notion that people will blame Pelosi for the problem. But that sure catches that Christmas spirit, doesn’t it. “Get that filthy Mary and Joseph out of here with their bastard kid!”

The trash Christian right is falling apart as Trump finds and breaks through their ethical basement. They’ve had to be “Good Germans” for the past three years, pretending the moral smoke from Trump’s policies toward immigrant children and the poor and working people is just wood smoke, nothing more. That Trump has begun comparing his trial to the crucifixion of Jesus is a wake-up call to a lot of them, along with increasing pressure from the majority of Christians who haven’t bought the authoritarian Kool-Aid. Their message is getting louder and clearer: “If you think this human garbage scow of the president is the next Jesus, you are an embarrassment to both Christianity and America. Knock it off.” And it’s working. A large and vocal anti-Trump contingent is appearing in America’s pulpits and Christian publications. The “Jesus loves you but you gotta pay me for it” crowd are battening down, preparing for a social storm.

Public anger is growing as Trump’s scheme to slash Social Security and Medicare and further demolish Obamacare continues. People are aware that McConnell and the GOP want the slashes to pay for the $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich that Ryan and Trump inflicted on us. People are tired of doing without so these upholstered parasites can afford a third yacht or a couple more Congressmen.

Panic is settling in. CNN had a poll of its pundits, including such luminaries as SE Cupp, to discover that in their collective wisdom, CNN believes Americans would be better off re-electing Trump than electing a socialist like Bernie Sanders or a liberal mixed-economy capitalist such as Elizabeth Warren. Think about that for a minute: the corporate media voices at CNN think that we would be better off with a psychotic, criminal, vicious and possibly demented disaster of a president over an FDR sort who believes that the national wealth ought to be shared with the people who created that wealth.

Welcome to the world of corporate media. They have only your best interests at heart, assuming you are rich, greedy and want only a docile workforce and a captive consumer market.

The corporate leaders already have the puppets posing as liberals in the Democratic party, the Biden/Klobuchar/Buttigieg contingent dancing to that same tune. Better to have a corporate eunuch who will only pretend to oppose America’s ongoing rightward drift into corporate feudalism, than someone willing to put up any kind of a fight to prevent the development of outright fascism.

McConnell is still making noises about keeping the fix in for his corrupt leader, but his protestations are increasingly hollow. At this point, some Republicans are realizing that they aren’t toying with losing a few seats in the next election, something their election fixers assured them couldn’t happen, but are, in fact, toying with the possibility of a popular revolt.

Americans were happy to follow their leaders, but now they see where the leaders have been taking them—and they don’t like it.

The GOP proceeds at its own risk.

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Solstice 2019 – Heikki Lunta

Heikki Lunta

Solstice 2019

December 21st, 2019

In places like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, snow dances fall under the category of “be careful what you ask for.” Like Buffalo or the Sierra or the Rockies, it’s a part of the country that can see major dumpage—snow measured by the meter rather than centimeters. Some years, the last thing in the world you want to do is encourage more of the stuff. Nonetheless, they have something called the “Heikki Lunta snowdance song” in Hancock, MI, a venerable tradition dating back to 1970 in which the locals beseech the snow gods for big snows in order to run the snowmobile races.

We got about 1.15 meters of snow (45”) back at Thanksgiving, so I’m just looking at those Michiganders beseeching their Finnish snowblower gods and I ask, “What in the hell are you THINKING?”

When I was a kid in Ottawa, the last thing anyone except us kids wanted was a big snow on Grey Cup weekend. (Canada has a Thanksgiving Day, but it’s at a more sensible time when crops are actually still being gathered and the whole country hasn’t iced up for the winter. You see, it usually dropped below zero about then and stayed there until late February, so any snow that fell was likely to still be there as stubborn patches of berm ice the following April.)

For adults, it was a nightmare season, shoveling and rock salt and “square tires” (the old style automobile tires used to freeze at night, including the flattened portion in direct contact with the sidewalk, resulting in a bump every revolution of the tires that persisted until the tires became warm enough to be malleable again.) They had snow chains back then, but it was usually easier to just use them to hang yourself than to put them on the wheels. There were engine blankets that prevented engines from freezing on really cold nights, but they carried their own risks. Bad enough that you had to get on your hands and knees on a minus twenty-five degree morning to shoo any cats out before starting the car, but you sometimes found yourself poking a skunk with your house broom—with predictable results. I know, because it happened to my Dad one winter. He smelled like the neighbor’s terrier, aka, “the world’s dumbest dog.” Dad’s just lucky Mom didn’t make him set out side that night in a tub of tomato juice. On the plus side, we didn’t have to smell the blood pudding that was his choice for breakfast for a few weeks after that. The skunk odor was an improvement.

Side streets, covered in white ice (very compacted snow) became favored locales for games of shinny, or pick-up hockey games.

Another more dangerous pastime involved grabbing the rear bumper of a bus leaving a stop and sliding along behind the bus for several blocks until it reached a heavily traveled street and the ice got patchy. It was a major bust if a cop saw you doing it. Not for you—for the cop. There wasn’t a cop alive who could catch a 10 year old boy on ice and snow. Most people put on weight in the winter. Not the police of Ottawa—we saw to it that they got lots of exercise and fresh air. Just doing our part to support our local police, ma’am.

Poor cops couldn’t even just shoot you in the back as you ran away. That would have caused talk. Hell, a lot of them didn’t even pack guns.

Ottawa wasn’t as far north as some places I’ve lived, and the longest night was about as long was either of America’s Portland’s. But it FELT more like the Solstice people think of when they think of polar bears eating Vikings and vice versa. You could go out on a dark, cold porch at 5pm, and watch snow dust sweeping across the white ice streets in taunting little eddies, look at the unforgiving and unwinking stars of a polar night, and feel your cheeks beginning to crinkle from the cold, and you knew, in your heart, that winter had finally arrived, and was going to dominate your life for the next three months or so.

It’s changing, of course. Temperatures of 10 and even 20 above are seen in March and sometimes February, the streets are normally free of ice and snow, which is a shame since many of the buses are now electric, eliminating the face-full of Diesel exhaust that was the price we paid for getting a free bus lift.

Still, that doesn’t mean the old style winters are gone. The polar vortex wobbles around more, and as a result, while most winters are warmer than they used to be, if the vortex settles over eastern Canada, then you could get a winter every bit as vicious as the ones we experienced as kids when our biggest concern was avoiding getting caught between a polar bear and his Viking.

For me, it’s the beginning of the countdown to meteorological spring. Officially, that’s March 1st. The calendar says March 21st, and my wood pile says April 22nd. In any case, it’s a turning point: the days have stopped getting shorter, and the weather will start getting warmer, slowly at first but with increasing confidence as the Earth rolls around the sun to the equinox, which is when Vikings balance eggs on the heads of polar bears. That is why there are no more Vikings.

In Australia, it’s the summer solstice, and a nightmare summer awaits. Fires are blazing along the east cost of the land, and extreme heat and winds turn them into infernos. The entire land mass set heat records on consecutive days this week, going from 40.3 on Tuesday to 40.9 on Wednesday to 41.9 yesterday. That’s the average high temperature, 107.5F, for an area larger than Europe. And the seasonal winds are building as the temperatures continue to climb.

Australia isn’t alone, just six months out of phase with the North American west coast, much of Brazil, Europe and much of Russia as the global warming change dubbed the pyrocene spreads like the fires in Australia.

But the seasons turn, and nothing humans do can change that, and respite will come. Hang in there, and be careful and courageous.

And don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

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Quid Nunc? – Trump has been impeached. Now what?

Quid Nunc?

Trump has been impeached. Now what?

December 19th 2019

Seeing Trump get impeached was enormously satisfying, wasn’t it? He is the most corrupt, dishonest, and vicious president in American history, and it’s time he got a little recognition for that. He was already upset that they gave the Time Cover of the year to a little girl he could beat up with one bone spur tied behind his back, even though with Kissinger, Stalin and Hitler former personages so awarded, Trump more than qualified.

Trump did celebrate, going to one of his little Nuremberg rallies and proclaiming that John Dingell, the late representative from Michigan, was watching all this from hell. Why? Because Dingell’s widow, Debbie, who filled his seat in the House, voted for impeachment. I imagine that went over well in Michigan, where he just made a really cheap attack on their most popular representatives.

Being a tacky and mean piece of shit isn’t, in itself, an impeachable offense. But it does make it harder to scrape up any sympathy for him. Many pundits have noted that in the many hours of debate the House and its committees staged over the past four weeks, not one Republican stood to defend Trump’s personal honor. They may be cowards, they may be cultists, they may be endlessly servile, but none of them had enough imagination to come up with that particular argument. Even the old line about Hitler (“At least he liked dogs”) doesn’t pertain; Trump doesn’t like dogs.

Trump forecast violence in the streets if he was impeached, and he was right, if you define doing the Macarena as being violent. He’s impeached, and nobody with an IQ above 90 or a bank balance below one million is upset about that.

Now it’s supposed to be going to the Senate, the the jury foreman, Mitch “Moscow” McConnell is also going to be the leading defense attorney. He’s already said, among other things, that witnesses would not be allowed to testify: Democratic witness because they would be damaging to his client, and administration witnesses because they would be damaging to his client. (No, not really: Trump simply doesn’t want anyone from the administration testifying. It’s right there in Article 2 of the impeachment.) McConnell vows to make a farce of the proceedings, because fuck America.

So there’s a very outside chance Pelosi won’t even send the Articles to the Senate. The result would be the same, except Trump wants exculpation and revenge, and this would eliminate any possibility of that. The impeachment would just be there, a deep shadow over his “perfect” presidency. It would drive him nuts.

Of course it would backfire, as the Republicans would just claim that the real reason the Dems didn’t send it to the Senate is because the case is so weak. Under new Republican rules of self incrimination, you cannot be convicted of a crime unless you specifically say that you committed that crime. For instance, if you come running out of a bank firing a gun behind you and carrying a sack full of money from said bank, you can’t be convicted unless you say, “I robbed a bank.” And if you’re the president, the police can’t even arrest you. The Republicans have come a long way from their campaign to eliminate reading Miranda rights.

So it will go to the Senate, and I’m hoping that demonstrators by the hundreds of thousands will go with it. Republicans need to know that if they try to protect their Putin puppet, the American public will revolt—not against the government, but against the Republican Party. A very important distinction, that: most Americans like their country. But they hate what the GOP is doing to that country.

In any case, the Republicans need to know that trying to whitewash or circumvent a Senate trial will carry a fatal political cost. And yes, just nominating Trump in the first place should have done that, but we live in an era where custard heads consider propaganda more important than journalism because it’s more interesting.

In the meantime, the House must continue its investigations into the various and multitudinous crimes the Trump cartel has committed. There are going to be more convictions and more sentencing of various Trump henchmen, including Guiliani, and cases for impeachment can be brought to bear against Barr, DeVoss, and Pompeo. Mike Pence is likely to face impeachment over his role in the Ukraine thing. And of course, there are quite literally hundreds of other charges that can be made against Trump, including several dozen just from the Mueller report.

As satisfying as yesterday’s votes were, the fight has just started. Trump must be legally harried and pursued until he he either quits or is driven from office. And the GOP must pay a horrible price for their efforts to circumvent justice and for their role in degrading America.

It’s only just begun. Democrats, don’t think you can stop here.

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And Then There Were Two – On impeachment, Dems keep it simple, stupid

And Then There Were Two

On impeachment, Dems keep it simple, stupid

December 11th 2019

Abuse of Power. Obstruction of Justice. Two counts, both on their faces impeachable offenses. The formal text is available in hundreds of places (At random, here:  ) and is a short read, perhaps 2,000 words. It’s simple, clear, straightforward, and based on an absolute mountain of damning evidence.

The Democrats could have filed dozens of discrete charges against this most corrupt of all presidents, and in a court of law, have most of them stick. But this isn’t going to a court of law. It’s going to the House, where a vote along party lines is pretty much inevitable. Most of the Republicans will vote against it simply out of blind party loyalty. Some have an active hatred of a free and open United States, and want a fascistic dystopia in which they can maintain power and a life of ease forever. So yeah, party-line vote.

And it’s going to happen fast. Before the Christmas break, apparently. (If you had asked me last week, I would have said such votes would take place in the House in February or even March).

House debate begins tonight, and despite the best efforts of Jordan and Nunes and that lot, it will address those two simple and salient charges. Did Trump abuse the powers of his office for his own personal gain? There are hundreds of instances the Democrats can point to, and they need only make a convincing case for ONE of them. Most likely it will be the efforts to smear the Bidens through Ukraine. Just to clear things up, offering a bribe is just as criminal as accepting one, and offering a bribe through withholding monies mandated to be paid by law in order to secure a favor for a personal benefit is a clear case of bribery—and abuse of power. Just the clip of Mulvaney saying “deal with it” would make it an open-and-shut case in a court of law.

Obstruction of Justice is even easier. Trump publicly declared he would order his entire White House staff and dozens of people not even on his staff to ignore all Congressional subpoenas. Open and shut.

But it’s not a court of law; it’s Congress, one of the most lawless places there is. The intent here isn’t to appeal to the noble brows of solons preoccupied only with the sanctity of the Law. Most of ‘em ain’t got none of that.

Basically, it’s to point out the cowards, the corrupt, the criminals, and yes, the traitors. If America survives this and gets rid of Trump, then in the next election if your congressional voted in the face of all evidence to not support the charges, make sure your district is plastered with posters and leaflets pointing out that vote to people. Don’t be afraid to use colorful language; the Republican didn’t have a lapse in judgment, and it wasn’t just a difference of opinion on policy; he or she voted to trash America and all it stands for for the sake of a vicious and possibly deranged sociopath intent on dictatorship.

The vote might occur next week. It will pass. Then it’s on to the Republican-held Senate and Moscow Mitch. Moscow Mitch doesn’t like being called that, but he came by it dishonestly enough in his dealings with some of Putin’s henchmen, and his blind support of Trump.

There, it will take on something resembling a court trial, with the presiding figure being the Chief Justice, John Roberts. Whatever his personal opinions might be, Roberts is going to glance at the hundreds of cameras covering the proceedings, and the tens of millions of people who will be watching closely, and he will know that credibility—not only for himself, but for both the Senate and the Supreme Court—ride on the fairness and impartiality he brings to the proceedings.

That leaves the rest of the Republicans. Just about every pundit in the county is assuring us these guys will never vote to impeach a Republican president, and the track record of those senators, who cheerfully put party ahead of country, seems to support it.

But I’m going to go out on a branch here, and say that if the Democrats sell the notions that Trump abused his power and obstructed justice (and even by Democratic standards, it would take monumental amounts of ineptness to fail to manage that) then a lot of Republicans are going to be facing a deeply hostile electorate who will view them as scofflaws, betrayers, even criminals in their own right, obstructing justice to protect a criminal president.

There’s about 10 Republicans who will support Trump no matter what. There’s a few that might vote to convict. The remaining 35 or 40 may be up for grabs, and if the Democrats make no mistakes and keep it a simple thing, may feel that they must vote to convict, if only to save their own asses.

Things are moving fast now. Stay tuned.

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Harris Drops Out – This might have been the best move she could make

Harris Drops Out

This might have been the best move she could make

December 3rd 2019

Kamela Harris announced unexpectedly that she was dropping her run for the White House today. Her message said, “I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

That’s probably completely true, in and of itself. But then she tweeted something that caused me to scratch my chin and smile: “It has been the honor of my life to be your candidate. We will keep up the fight.” With any other candidate, that would be boilerplate farewell verbiage, on par with “spend more time with my family.” But Harris has other fights in her near future.

Trump, that pile of trash masquerading as a President, tweeted, “Too bad. We will miss you Kamala!” and went on to congratulate Tulsi Gabbard, his fellow Russian asset.

Kamala tweeted back, “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I’ll see you at your trial.”

Which confirmed what I already suspected.

Yes, the Harris campaign was in trouble, and it was inevitable that she would have to drop the run in the fairly near future. And it would be a good move in the long run, since this was pretty much a “groundwork” campaign, one that assumed she wouldn’t get the brass ring this time, but would build good will, name recognition and reputation for a future run—which she has accomplished.

But Kamala Harris isn’t just a candidate: she is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a brilliant and accomplished prosecutor.

The House Intelligence Select Committee today released its report, “The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report” which contains not only all the damning evidence presented in the hearings before the committee, but a few more, such as access to phone records (even cell phones, because Trump and his henchmen were too stupid to encrypt their conversations!) and an entire galaxy of connections and transactions that pretty much make any defense of Trump impossible.

The committee vote on whether to refer this damning report to the House floor, headlined in nearly every news outlet in the country and expected to be read by tens of millions of Americans, was voted to the floor by a 13-9 vote, strictly along party lines. The Republicans, cowards, crooks and traitors all, didn’t even want the report discussed in the House. Republicans have no moral or ethical basement, and hold America and its citizenry in infinite contempt. They will try to maintain a wall of nihilistic ideology for as long as humanly possible. The full House vote may well fall along party lines, and Rupert Murdoch’s filthy Goebbels machine will claim it means the impeachment stems only from Democratic malice, and not any wrongdoing on Trump’s part.

When it reaches the Senate, it will take on the elements of a criminal trial, with the Chief Justice overseeing the procedure. McConnell will do all in his power to short-circuit the process, but John Roberts isn’t about to let his reputation destroyed by the corrupt juggalo show that the Republicans will hope for.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will be presenting the case against Trump. Kamala Harris is on that committee.

The Democrats need a prosecutor who can, clearly and succinctly, convince a jury that no reasonable doubt exists. That most of the jurors in this case are members of that corrupt and criminal enterprise that used to be the Republican party means she has to be at the top of her game, her actions and activities utterly unimpeachable.

Now, she won’t turn the Republicans into honest and decent Americans. She will just convince the public, and make it impossible for the Senate cockroaches to function in the merciless glare of her case-building.

Harris is perfect for the position. We’ve already seen how good she is in that role. The Republicans would be right to fear her.

Except you can’t have a prosecutor who is trying a suspect and at the same time trying to take the suspect’s job. That’s a conflict of interest a mile wide, and one the Republicans would immediately use to try to undermine her legitimacy and thus debunk any and all evidence she presents against Trump.

By dropping out of the campaign, Harris has removed that vulnerability. The Republicans will whine that she’s a Democrat and that’s why she’s so mean to that nice Mister Trump, but that won’t fly.

In the meantime, over one hundred million Americans are going to be watching as she lays out the case against Trump. She will make the stonewalling and lies of Republicans untenable. She will shatter Trump and his criminal cabal.

That’s why she dropped out, right now. She is far more important to the country as a Senator than she could possibly be as a presidential candidate and thus compromised.

Do your job, Senator Harris, and win your case! Your country will remember it.

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